A little over a week ago, Hootsuite notified me that someone had posted about my book, The Friday Night Date Dress, on Twitter. Curious, I opened up the app to see what it was about. After all, given the book's title, people sometimes just post about actual dresses intended to be worn out on a Friday night with those keywords.
But no, the search results really were referring to the title of my book. And someone had actually posted about it four times that day, with a shortened URL link. Curious, I followed the link--and discovered, to my horror, that it took me to a pirate site where the book was being offered for free. In all eBook formats. Plus an MP3.
Gut roiling with that sickly feeling you get when you are trying to find out if someone you like really has been stealing from you, I investigated further. Yep, there it was--my cover, my name, my blurb, my bio, everything. And a big, fat, "Free Download" button.
There were four short reviews for "my book" beneath the listing--almost as many as the listing on Amazon.ca currently sports!--but they were obviously fake. (Two of them by supposedly different authors used identical poor English.) The site was hosted in Russian.
My book was not alone. I don't know how many books this site had ripped off, but there were a LOT. Further research discovered that several other sites were also doing the same thing.
At this point, several choice words not suitable for family viewing went through my mind.
It was close to my bedtime, and there wasn't much I could do that night, so I went to bed pursued by the same horrible feeling I had when my college roommate's boyfriend had stolen my car (for which I still owed a great deal of money) and taken it on a drug-addled high speed chase through BC, completely totalling it. The insurance payout did not cover the loan.
The next day, I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to deal with pirates. I learned that there were many ways that pirates steal books besides what they had done to me. And I was glad that I had been leery of downloading files from the sites I had found, which kind of looked like the bookseller's equivalents of Russian brothels. You never know what I (or my computer) could have caught from those places.
By the end of the day, I came to the realization that I could spend my time fighting pirates, or I could write books, but I did not have enough time in my life to do both.
For the non-Facebookers in the crowd, this is what I posted that night;
Some people say you've made it as an author when someone pirates your book. Well, I'm not sure how thrilled I am to be joining this dubiously "elite" club, but I discovered The Friday Night Date Dress being offered for free last night. Since then, I have been reading about other authors' often futile wars against the pirates of the world and debating about whether it is worth my time and energy to join them.
I'm leaning towards not. As much as it irks me that someone thinks they can steal and distribute a project for which I haven't even earned back my capital, let alone my time, on the other hand, I tend to think that my time is better spent writing more books that honest people will pay for than fighting the masses of thieves who never would have read it otherwise, anyway. Besides, it's kind of flattering that some Russian pirates actually thought my book might be in high enough demand that they took the time to create not only an eBook version in every format, but even an mp3! I just wish I had earned more than the average Russian serf's weekly income on it first.
Oh, well. I'm in good company. Most authors have had their work pirated at one point or another. And judging by the reviews on the page (which I confess to doubting the veracity of, given how recently this pirated version became available, how short and generic they are, and that two of them were EXACTLY the same), I can say --
I'M BIG IN RUSSIA!
Lots of people commented on my "good attitude." I'm not sure if my attitude is so much "good" as "practical."
Here's the thing. I can't control what other people do. People have stolen from me before. People have cheated me before. People have falsely accused me, misunderstood me, and wrongly dissed my reputation.
I can't control that.
But I can control how I react.
There are certainly things in this life that are worthwhile to get all bent out of shape about and crusade about. But is this one of them?
Should I give myself ulcers trying to defend the honour of my one lone published work when all my efforts would be somewhat like playing whackamole with a hydra?
Wouldn't that just be letting the pirates win in a different way?
No. I will keep working on new stories. I will trust that you, my reader and my friend, want to support my effort to provide you with quality, heartfelt entertainment and so will pay me to read those stories. And I will not lose sleep over what thieves will do.
There will always be people in this life who try to take advantage of us. And I'm not saying we should always let them. But sometimes, there really is nothing you can do--except not allow yourself to be victimized. This comes down to attitude.
Yes, I realize that this is much easier in a situation where the wounds mostly end up in my pocket book than, say, me or my family being put directly in harm's way.
However, whenever we are in situations where others are trying to take our power (whether in a direct, visceral way, or through the "sanitized" world of digital pirating), we can still choose whether or not to let them. When we have been abused or misused, those scars often stay with us for life. But they do not need to be ugly and bleeding. The scars can mend and become stronger than all the surrounding skin, and even become the strongest part of our character.
We get to choose--do we let ourselves remain victims, or not? That is the power we still have.
What do you choose?
P.S. If you haven't yet had an opportunity to read my first book, check out the link to see where you can get it. The real reviews that people have left will testify that it's worth a few bucks and a few hours of your valuable time. :-)
You have no idea how much I appreciate your support of my work--so much, in fact, that I'm working on a free short story just for my readers. To get it, make sure you are signed up for my "book newsletter" so you get notified when I send it out. (It will only be available to newsletter subscribers.)
Happy Tuesday, friend! May your day be full of joy.